By Alecia Sexton
Many people wonder what type of macro-nutrient, whether it be a carbohydrate, protein, or fat, is the most efficient type of fuel for the brain and ultimately the body.
Scientists identified carbohydrates as the preferred form of nutrition for the brain. The brain uses about 20 percent of the body’s oxygen and up to 50 percent of the body’s total glucose (blood sugar). It’s important that we fuel our brains with the absolute best substances. But what substances are best?
This dilemma inspired the creation of fad diets that claim to be the “most effective in producing raw energy.” The Atkins and Keto diets are just two diets that have become popularized in American society. However, studies conclude that while these diets are effective in shifting body composition, they, as well as all diets, should be closely researched before starting.
The basis of both the Atkins and Keto diets stem from our ancestors and the fact that food often wasn’t readily available to them. During these times they experienced a carbohydrate deficit, forcing the body to use stored fat and protein as a fuel to survive.
The goal of the Atkins diet is to reduce one’s carbohydrate intake to about 25 grams per day, equivalent to half of a potato. At the same time you increase your intake of both proteins and fats. In this diet, consuming fewer carbs will decrease cravings and skew the body towards burning stored fat for energy, ultimately leading to weight loss.
The Keto diet, while similar to Atkins, is stricter since it aims to reduce carb intake to below 20 grams per day, and emphasizes consuming healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil.
“Keto” is derived from the biological process ketosis, where ketone molecules are produced and the body burns fat as its primary source of fuel. If the body remains in this carbohydrate deprived state, fat will become the main source of fuel and will burn rapidly.
A diet abundant in carbs signals the body to use them for immediate energy and continue to retain stored fat. But cutting out carbs may not be the most favorable way to lose weight.
Many people who begin these diets report side effects such as weakness, dizziness, brain fog, and heart palpitations. If you are thinking of beginning a new diet, especially if you suffer from any health conditions or have dietary restrictions, you should always consult with a medical professional first.